Tom Brackett poses a US question to the Church of England.
My explorations of fresh expressions in Britain have been remarkably encouraging. Normally, my job has me visiting new ministries throughout the Episcopal Church, constantly in search of what I might share as 'learnings' with the larger church. That persistent search for 'learnings' and new insights suits my job title perfectly as Program Officer for Church Planting and Ministry Redevelopment for the Episcopal Church. In short, I am the Episcopal Church's Chief Cheerleader for new ministry development, and I am based in New York.
This visit to the church in Britain has been marked by gracious hospitality and generosity from leaders in the Diocese of Liverpool, Church Army and The Sheffield Centre, Fresh Expressions and local saints in Manchester, Liverpool, London and Sheffield. I am really grateful.
As I prepared for this trip, I surveyed colleagues and advisors for the questions they wish they could ask of ministry leaders here in the Church of England. What emerged as the key question is based on the belief that the CoE has wrestled with the effects of secularisation considerably longer than we have in the States.
The question goes something like this: 'If you'd known 20 years ago what you know now about the church's needed responses to secularisation, what might you have done differently, in anticipation?' In other words: 'How would you have intentionally prepared faith communities to partner with the work of the Spirit in a rapidly changing world?'
The question is not meant to be heard as: 'What do you wish you had done, back in the day?' as much as: 'How might we (as an institution) prepare our hearts to embrace the new work that the Spirit is longing to engage in us?' I look forward to sharing your responses with our Ministry Innovators back in the States.
With hope, Tom Brackett